By Mike Riopell
Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sunday vetoed legislation that would have raised the minimum salary for an Illinois teacher to $40,000 within five years, putting the re-election-seeking Republican at odds with teachers unions once again.
The bill approved by lawmakers in the spring would make the minimum teacher salary for next school year $32,076. The number would rise to $40,000 for the 2022-23 term and grow with the Consumer Price Index after that.
"Teachers are our greatest asset in ensuring the future of our youth and they deserve to be well-compensated for their hard work," Rauner wrote in his veto message. "However, minimum pay legislation is neither the most efficient nor the most effective way to compensate our teachers.
"Things like pay-for-performance, diversified pay for teachers in hard-to-staff schools or subjects, or pay incentives for teachers with prior work experience are all viable options to provide greater compensation for teachers," the governor wrote.
The Democrat who sponsored the salary bill said Sunday that he was "disappointed."
"Refusing to guarantee professional educators a livable minimum wage is no way to lure more teachers to Illinois," Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill said in a statement. "I'm disappointed in the governor's veto, and I know thousands of dedicated, hard-working, creative educators throughout the state are too."
Rauner has feuded with labor since his first campaign, including teachers unions that backed the minimum salary proposal. But he often touts his signature last year on a new school funding formula among his top achievements.
State lawmakers could try to override Rauner's veto when they go back to Springfield after the November election, but it could be difficult. Supporters would have to find six more supporters of the minimum teacher salary bill than voted for it back in May.
Illinois law currently lists the minimum salary for a teacher at $9,000, a level that took effect in July 1980.
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